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By C. Brandon Chapman, College of Education

PULLMAN, Wash. – Focusing on assessment testing will not help Washington close gaps in education opportunity, a state congressman told students, faculty and others at a College of Education reception at Washington State University on Tuesday.

The presentation by John McCoy, who represents the Everett, Marysville and Tulalip areas of Snohomish County, was part of the college’s Diversity in Schools and Society reception series (http://education.wsu.edu/receptionseries.html). The series examines ways to close the opportunity gaps in state K-12 schools; these gaps result when students do not have access to quality education, services and resources needed to succeed in school.

McCoy said assessment tests aren’t good barometers of intelligence or ability. Instead, he said, teachers should test their own students at the end of a study unit.

“That way you’re testing the child as soon as you’re done with the subject matter,” he said. “I’d prefer the classroom teacher to assess,” he said. “They best know when that child is progressing or not.

“I think it is OK for (the Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction) to set a goal, but don’t tell the teacher how to get there,” he said. “Let the teacher determine if the child is succeeding.”

Assessment testing cannot accommodate the many factors that comprise and influence accomplishment, McCoy said.

“First of all, there’s no cultural relevancy to it, and these tests don’t reflect the individual communities,” he said. “It also doesn’t allow for creativity.”

Additionally, he said, some children may know the subject but be bad test-takers. Also, “there could be a family issue, or maybe they weren’t feeling well.”

Read more about McCoy’s perspective at http://housedemocrats.wa.gov/john-mccoy/testing-testing-testing-balancing-accountability-and-cost/.

The series is hosted by the College of Education and WSU’s Office for Access, Equity and Achievement. Upcoming speakers include Fiasili “Sili” Savusa, executive director of the White Center Community Development Association, and Lina Thompson, national training and capacity development director for World Vision U.S. programs, at 3:30 p.m. Tuesday, Nov. 12, in Education Addition 308.

For more information on the series, contact lynn.becerra@wsu.edu.